In 2008, the Teamsters Union published “Clara Day: A Teamster’s Life” as part of the Teamster History Collection. The book profiles one of the union’s most memorable leaders, Clara Day.
Clara Day’s contributions to Teamster history are truly memorable. She battled both race and gender stereotypes as she climbed many steps on her way to attaining a leadership position with Local 743 in Chicago.
She was born in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and was the middle child of George and Belle Taylor. Day came from a large family with 11 children, including three sets of twins. Coming from a large family would be a benefit for Day years later as it gave her important skills as a coalition builder during her time as a Teamster.
“Clara Day took her vision for community service, civil rights and women’s rights and made them the union’s vision. She was strength, she was action, she was gentility and she was class. Best of all, she was a Teamster,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.
Clara Day joined Local 743 in 1955 after being instrumental in the successful organizing campaign at Montgomery Ward where she was employed. Shortly thereafter, she was brought onto the staff of Local 743 to represent the same workers she had helped bring to the union.
Moving up the ranks from business agent and various other responsibilities, she was elected to the Local 743 Executive Board in 1976. She served as Trustee and Recording Secretary for more than 20 years.
While a business agent, Day also served as Director of Community Services for Local 743. She served as a liaison to members and their families providing information on a broad range of public and private services, as well as educational opportunities in the community.
She was a powerful voice in support of the civil rights movement. She served with distinction on numerous boards, committees and commissions, both public and private, with the mission of making equal rights and justice a reality for women and minorities.
Day’s proudest achievements include serving as a founding member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) and leading a delegation of her union members in the historic March on Washington in the company of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
To pick up your own copy of “Clara Day: A Teamster’s Life,” contact your local union.